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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 21

 

 

Verses 1-29

THE COLD-BLOODED MURDER OF NABOTH

(vs.1-16)

When one adopts a sullen, sulking character, it is likely to develop more seriously. Ahab illustrated this in his dealings with Naboth the Jezreelite. He coveted what belonged to Naboth and offered him either money or another vineyard for Naboth's vineyard, since it was near Ahab's property (v.2). But Naboth had received the vineyard as an inheritance from his father, and told Ahab that his conscience toward the Lord would not allow him to give up that inheritance (v.3).

There was certainly no right reason that this should have affected Ahab so badly, but he went home again sullen and displeased, as he had before. He laid on his bed sulking, even refusing to eat (v.4). When he told Jezebel the reason for his sulking, she immediately knew what to do, and told him she would give him the vineyard of Naboth. She had no hesitation in using Ahab's name in her heartless abuse of authority. She wrote letters in his name and sealed them with his seal. Why was Ahab's seal available to her? But he made no objection, therefore he was just as guilty as she.

The letters were blatantly bold, demanding that Naboth be apprehended and two men of low character hired to bear false witness against him, to the affect that he had blasphemed God and the king (v.10). Of course the evil men were paid for their lies. The elders of the city were just as guilty as Jezebel and Ahab, for they knew that Naboth was accused falsely, but no one would make any protest. Jezebel had already decided that Naboth must die by stoning and this horrible injustice was quickly carried out (v.13).

The cold-blooded wife of Ahab then told him to take possession of Naboth's vineyard, for Naboth was dead (v.15). Ahab's conscience should have warned him that he would have to give account to God of the murder of Naboth, but he ignored his conscience and went down to take possession of Naboth's vineyard.

GOD SENDS ELIJAH TO AHAB

(vs.17-29)

At this point God intervened. He sent Elijah to meet Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth, with the message, "Have you murdered and also taken possession?" and "Thus says the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours." Ahab's response, "Have you found me, 0 my enemy?" indicates that he had tried to hide his works from the Lord but had been found out. Therefore Elijah speaks the words of the Lord to Ahab, "I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord: Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free. I will make your house like the house of Jereboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and made Israel sin" (vs.20-22).

What could Ahab say? His kingly dignity could not intimidate Elijah, and the moral force of Elijah's words compelled Ahab to listen. More than this, Ahab was also told, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel" (v.23). Elijah had before run away from Jezebel because of her vicious threat (ch.19:2-3), but he delivers the announcement of her end with no fear whatever Thus God had recovered him from his fear.

As to Ahab's family, he is told that the dogs would eat any of those who died in the city and the birds would eat any who died in the field (v.24). None of them would be allowed the dignity of a burial. What a message for a king of Israel to receive!

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-kings-21.html. 1897-1910.

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